When you name your junky-abducted-by-aliens genre movie “Fried Barry,” you set up certain expectations.
When your opening scene is an early ’60s looking “official warning viewers of what is coming, that it’s “classified” as “18,” and all manner of violence, drug abuse and sex will be shown in all their unsparing grossness, you prompt giggles as you further those expectations.
Slapping an “intermission” interstitial in it adds to the sense of “fun” you’re conveying.
Character names such as Fried Barry, Little Beast and Sticky Vicky and Caveman promising amusing “types.”
Brag about how it had no actual “script,” just a breakdown of scenes, thrown together over a weekend. Dialogue? The actors came up with that on the set. Thus, the “writer/director” credit in the opening morphs into “A Ryan Kruger Thing.”
But man, bragging about that lack of prep for this in-your-face, gross and grimly unfunny “romp” through Capetown’s street life? A little premature, sport. “Fried Barry” lacks the one thing you’ve promised with everything listed above — a light, loose touch.
It sets up as a “Brother from Another Planet” meets “Crank” genre mash-up, a goof on junky tales, alien abduction stories complete with penile probe and alien insemination.
But every tin-eared line of trite, slapdash dialogue (There isn’t much of it, but none of it is good.), every sophomoric “let’s throw Barry into another sexual situation, the uglier the better,” every leaden encounter — friendly or unfriendly — undercuts any sense of “fun” the picture might generate.
Granted, I wasn’t watching it in a theater full of hooting, hardcore genre devotees, but I found it just a slog.
Barry (Gary Green) is a high-mileage junky — he might be 50, he looks 60-plus — with a woman (Chanelle de Jager) who curses him, in English and Afrikaans, a toddler and an addiction that’s far more important to him than either of them.
He’s always looking for that next chance to cook up, and there’s a whole support system or barflies and fellow users to give him those chances.
But walking a back alley after his latest plunge — Kruger illustrates drug trips as diving underwater — he’s immersed in light, and lifted into the sky where a hallucinatory blur of probing, laser-scanning and aliens eyeballing him, etc. ensues. Yeah, that’s funny.
And then, still tripping, he’s dropped back on the street — catatonic, wild-eyed and high as a kite.
Barry’s “strange trip” takes him, staggering like a robotic zombie, through hookers, a rave and a bar pickup, because this gross, weathered slob of an addict is just catnip to the ladies.
He is assaulted and abused, nagged (the “wife” finds him) and kidnapped. He also lays a healing hand on a heart attack victim and makes an instant baby, conceived in bile, with a fetching sex worker.
Quite the night.
That which is offensive is meant to be humorously so, and never quite gets there. Barry’s odyssey has hints of a personal journey to it, a rebirth. Not really.
There are suggestions of “Starman” to Green’s performance, that puzzled, alien-in-a-strange-land who regards the world like a stoned pigeon and parrots what is said to him because speech is a “new thing.” But strip all the charm from that, give the guy one slack-jawed look, and that’s the “acting” we get.
The spare effects are terrific and just flashy enough to not seem out of place in a lowdown exploitation picutre like this.
One can see why the fanboys might buy into “Fried Barry” — the sci-fi/horror elements, the exploitation touches, the primitive sexism (all harridans and whores). But not me.
Let’s just say I got it, but I never got into it. Ever.
MPAA Rating: unrated, with violence, drug abuse, explicit sex, nudity and profanity
Cast: Gary Green, Chanelle de Jager, Kelsey Egan, Joey Cramer and Sean Cameron Michael
Credits: Written and directed by Ryan Kruger. A Rock Salt release.
Running time: 1:39